The Grand Master
Seida blew out a nervous sigh as they stepped out of the waypoint and into the cobblestone courtyard of the Citadel dispatch zone. The massive fortress towered above the entire city. Its many white stone spires and stained glass windows glinted blindingly in the sunlight. Gregorim looked around in awe, transfixed by all that was around them. Keeping a hand gently on his arm, she guided him toward the guards at the gate that were waiting for them. They had no time to stop and enjoy the sights
“State your business at the Citadel.”
Seida flashed the red ribboned letter and held up her veteran’s ID. Gregorim held up his ID as well. “Answering a summons from the office of the Grand Master.”
The guards exchanged looks when they saw the red ribbon embossed with a golden eagle. They quickly stepped aside, motioning for them to pass. “Very well. Stay out of trouble while you’re here.”
“Of course,” Seida said as they entered the main courtyard. There were hundreds of people going to and from the Citadel—priests, soldiers, clerks and officials all rushing to and fro. Gregorim hovered close behind her as they made their way through the crowd. Undoubtedly, they would be here for quite a while. There was always a wait for any meeting here.
The entryway was as crowded as she remembered it being. People ambled about, admiring the murals painted on the stone walls and the intricate windows depicting ancient battles from long ago while they waited for their summons. Gregorim whistled as they took their place in the line at the receptionist’s desk.
“I’ve never been inside the Citadel since I was recruited,” He said, unable to focus on any one thing for more than a few moments before something new caught his eye. Seida smiled. He was such a curious boy.
“I’m sure you will have plenty of time to admire its beauty. There is always a wait for the Grand Master’s office. If we have time, we might even take a tour through the Hall of Stories.” Seida crossed her arms as she began to count the people in line ahead of them. More than likely, they’d be able to tour half the Citadel before being summoned for their appointment.
Slowly but surely, the line inched forward. Seida drummed her fingers on her leg, trying to keep her mind from fretting too much about their meeting. The letter had seemed polite and high-spirited, but she’d learned that most bureaucrats tended to make things far more flowery than they actually were. Even being the commander of the Order’s military didn’t change the fact that the Grand Master was still a politician. There was almost certainly something he’d left out of his letter. She feared they would be written off as Maera had done to her last night.
At last, they reached the receptionist’s desk. Seida greeted the clerk and showed her the seal on their letter when she asked the purpose of their visit. She and the three other clerks at the desk all paused to inspect it. They exchanged odd looks. Seida didn’t like the feeling it left her with. Did they know something she didn’t?
“Ah, yes. Miss Mauvir for the Grand Master’s office….” the clerk searched her desk before pulling a golden metal tag tied to a red ribbon out of a basket. “I trust you know the way, Miss Mauvir?”
“Aye, that I do. Thank you,” Seida took the token and nudged Gregorim to get him moving. They slipped through the crowd toward the large spiral staircase behind the desk. “This way. We’ll be headed to the Central Spire.”
“How long do you think until we see him? The Grand Master, I mean.” Gregorim seemed almost giddy with excitement now, despite their long wait in line. She envied how hopeful he was. Perhaps she was a little bit too jaded, after all her experiences with the political side of the Order. A summons so soon might just be a good sign like he had suggested. She was very glad to have him along. The positivity he brought was much needed.
“It will be a while yet, I’m sure. I’ve never had a visit to the Citadel last any less than a few hours. There were always other Scouters and all manner of bureaucrats waiting to bring him reports. With luck, we will be a higher priority case and be seen sooner.”
They climbed several floors before reaching the Central Spire. The receptionist there greeted them with a smile as he looked up from his work. He scribbled a few more words on his parchment before setting his quill aside. “You must be Seida and Gregorim. The Grand Master has been expecting you. He is in a meeting with the Assignment Committee. They should be done shortly. Just take a seat and the Steward will come to escort you to the office when he’s ready for you.”
Seida led the way to the empty chairs against the wall facing the door to the office. There wasn't anyone else present, which struck her as very odd. Usually there was always a line of officials and soldiers waiting to report in here. The silence in the room was stifling. The only sound was from the clerk's quill scratching on the parchment as he wrote.
Gregorim leaned closer to her to whisper to her, "I thought you said there would be a long wait? There is no one here."
"Usually there is. This is highly unusual." Seida sat back in her chair, trying to loosen up. Perhaps he had carved out some time in his day to have them come up and speak as soon as possible. Positivity was something she desperately needed right about now.
Gregorim drummed his fingers on his knees, seeming to have something still on his mind. Seida waited patiently for him to speak his mind. When at last he did, it took a great effort for her not to frown. “I’ve been thinking about what the Overseer was saying when we gave her our report, about you understanding rules about covering things up. Did you do something wrong and that’s why you were retired? You made it sound l...